Ethiopian Medal – story 1

Some object’s stories are so lovely I write them up properly as very short stories and post them as the first comment, here is number one.


One thought on “Ethiopian Medal – story 1

  1. Story written from interview with Katie, 19, student, London, UK.

    The medal washed up on a stony little beach in Greece. She was seven years old. The way it skimmed out of the waves and came to rest directly at her feet is an extraordinarily vivid memory for her. The medal itself is the size and shape of a milk-bottle top. In a smaller circle is the profile in cameo of a man in military uniform. His long forehead curves into a heavy brow and an imposing nose with the nostrils slightly raised. She felt that his eyes, hidden as they were in deep sockets of bronze, would have been full of purpose. The writing on the back of the medal is a series of shapes that she did not recognise, they vaguely resemble many different knots tied in smooth rope, interspersed with oriental looking brushstrokes. She loved the feeling of it in her hand, the parts that jutted furthest out from the dark surface were worn smooth and shone much more in the light.

    There are two reasons that the medal has and will remain her most precious object. It found her at the very end of a beach that nobody went to much, but that she had been to with her family every year since she was a baby and loved more than anywhere else. That was the last year they ever went there because it was the year her parents got divorced. The second reason it was so special was that it was an absolute mystery to her and everyone she showed it to. Nobody could even guess what language the writing was in let alone who the man was, so she was free to imagine as many far-fetched explanations for it as she wanted, and that is exactly what she had been doing until very recently.

    A few weeks ago she showed the medal to her friend who had been travelling around Ethiopia. He immediately recognised the writing as the Ethiopian language, Amharic, and the man as Emperor Selassie I. It didn’t take long on the internet to identify it as The Exile Medal for Ethiopians who assisted in the resistance against the Italian invasion and occupation from 1935 to 1941 and were made refugees. There is something strangely appropriate in the fact that it found her in the one place she now feels exiled from. It wasn’t her home but it was much dearer to her than her home was, and she will never go back, she says.

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